Smuggling garlic has become a lucrative crime in the EU, ever since the introduction of a duty of 9.5% on imports. According to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the UK, Italy and Poland are the member states most vulnerable to Chinese garlic being smuggled in.

The EU has lost millions of Euro because of the illegal smuggling of garlic from China, “not to mention the indirect losses by means of unfair competition and loss of market share by EU producers,” Pavel Borkovec from OLAF said.

OLAF report that the garlic is usually smuggled in via countries that have no import duty on the product, but which also have preferential customs arrangements with the EU, making it easy to cross borders without the offence being noticed. Another way, in which smuggling is carried out, is the mislabeling of packed garlic as other produce items that do not attract import tariffs.

For example, in January 2011, Polish customs officers discovered a load of 144 metric tons of Chinese garlic, which was declared as onions. The smugglers were attempting to avoid paying some €180,000 in duties.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that in 2010 China produced 18.5 million tons of garlic, about 80% of total global production.

Source: Fresh Plaza Jan 2013

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